Aussie investor talks slow over Bougainville mine relaunch

Panguna Mine in its 1970s heyday. (Image: Creative Commons)

Talks between Australian investors and the Papua New Guinean and Bougainville governments over plans to reopen the Panguna copper mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville have slowed.

The mine has been closed since 1989 due to conflicts in the region.

Local operator Bougainville Copper (BCL) recently contributed to a tax and revenue summit in the region’s capital Buka, where it conducted a feasibility study for a relaunch of the once-thriving Panguna copper mine, which, while non-operational, was owned by Rio Tinto until divestment last year.

Lawyer and mining industry expert Renzie Duncan — currently advising Bougainville officials on mining rights and creator of an Australian investor consortium for the region — is banned from entering PNG until 2024 due to a request filed by the Bougainville Government, which wishes for operation of the mine to remain local.

Gold and copper company RTG Mining and billionaire private management fund owner Richard Hains are among the investors currently involved with the Australian consortium, which pays stipends to local landowners

The relaunch has been cited as a crucial financial key to the small region’s plans for independence from Papua New Guinea, which is planned to go to a public vote in 2019.

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